BONN (Dec. 10)
An official of the opposition Social Democratic Party has warned against allowing joy over the opening of the Berlin Wall to erase the memory of Jewish suffering during the Nazi era.
Heinz Putzrath, who chairs the SPD’s committee of Nazi survivors, spoke out last week against proposals to make Nov. 9, the day the East German regime opened the wall, a national holiday in West Germany.
He pointed out that the day is the anniversary of the notorious Kristallnacht, the first government-sanctioned pogrom in Nazi Germany, which occurred on the night of Nov. 9, 1938.
Hundreds of Jews were murdered and thousands were injured on that occasion, as Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed all over the Reich while crowds of citizens applauded.
Since the wall was opened, public officials have been urging that the date be officially designated a holiday to mark an historic event in the modern history of Germany.
But Putzrath argued that it must not be stripped of its special character of remembrance. He pointed out that there are other suitable dates to celebrate the symbolic razing of the wall.
Most observers believe its occurrence on Nov. 9 was fortuitous, as the faltering Communist regime was already under intense popular pressure to open the borders. In fact, some passages through the wall remained closed on Nov. 9, while others were opened.